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Trauma is 'Written Into Our Bodies' - but Educators Can Help [edutopia.org]

 

By Stephen Merrill, Edutopia, September 11, 2020

Some of the first adorable patients to trickle into Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’s pediatric clinic when it opened in 2007—long before she was named the first surgeon general of California—were referred by teachers and principals.

Sitting in her examination rooms back then, in one of San Francisco’s poorest neighborhoods, Burke Harris knew almost immediately that something was amiss. Her young patients arrived with tentative diagnoses of oppositional defiant disorder or learning deficits, but routine exams uncovered a host of more serious physical ailments: asthma, autoimmune hepatitis, and even growth failure. Almost inevitably, the children’s caretakers—also sick with advanced diabetes, heart disease, or cancer—relayed harrowing stories of family incarceration, sexual abuse, and even murder.

“I’d have this snapshot of multigenerational adversity in one room,” Burke Harris said, still looking worried decades later. How did the pieces fit together? What did a learning problem have to do with asthma, or with exposure to trauma? Could any of it be connected to terminal conditions like cancer?

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Teachers have been asked to solve problems associated with aces for many decades without much success.  It's not the fault of teachers.  Trying to help hurting children is very difficult at best and often impossible.

The answer isn't reactive endeavor...it's proactive endeavor.  The aces associated with unsupportive and harmful can be prevented with a new kind of parenting education...one that reaches everyone, everywhere, all the time.  

The Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the National Institute of Mental Health should be working furiously on this new kind of parenting education. Perhaps parenting education campaigns akin to the smoking and seatbelts campaigns of the past? Perhaps multi-media messaging that teaches parenting behaviors and practices generally recognized as supporting the healthy development of children.

 

  

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